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Chat with Stephen Byers about FCO lying

Just wanted to mention yesterday's constituency surgery with Stephen
Byers, in which the issue of East Timor and Iraq was raised.  I was with
Lidia Tindle, a lady who works with Timorese exiles in the north east,
and who is better at talking to ministers than i am. The session was
quite productive, and we had quite a long chat with Mr. Byers, coming
out of it feeling a little more positive than usual (we don't normally
get on well with Mr. Byers).

Among other things, we asked why there were sanctions imposed on Iraq,
but not on Indonesia. Mr. Byers said that the sanctions on Iraq were a
result of the invasion of Kuwait, conveniently forgetting that Indonesia
invaded East Timor...

Lidia spoke at length on East Timor and the UN, which I realise is
off-topic here, so I won't go into that.  I also expressed my concern at
the letters that the FCO had sent me, including the one from Robin Cook
which i emailled to this list before.  I told him that, firstly, I
didn't appreciate being lied to by Robin Cook, Peter Hain and the FCO,
and secondly, i didn't appreciate the implication that people like
myself were undermining the UN and supporting Saddam Hussein's
propaganda effort.  I went through a few examples in the letters where
the FCO ministers had either blatently lied or told only half the truth.
He asked me to get him copies of the letters and statements from the FCO
which i have a problem with, and he will raise it with the relevent
departments. (One of these is a response from the Middle East desk in
reply to a letter about Pilger's documentary.  I'll get a copy of this
posted on my website). Also, he hasn't seen the Pilger documentary, so
I'll be dropping off a copy of the video at his office.  It should be
interesting to see what, if any, action he takes.  Maybe it'll stir the
FCO into thinking up better bullshit.

Best wishes

Ronan Dodds
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